The arms of two runners setting their watches

Pacing Partners

  • Good for groups where runners can be put in pairs of similar ability
  • Perfect for practising pacing and pace judgement
  • Ideal for even-numbered groups of 2-20 runners
  • Works well in parks

Pacing Partners is ideal for introducing a competitive element into a pacing practice session.


A couple of flexi-cones can be used to mark the start point, but natural markers such as trees work just as well.

Setting Up

Pick a loop of about 200-600m in length and either place cones at the start of the loop or use a natural marker such as a tree.

Arrange team members into pairs. Try to ensure that runners are paired with others of similar ability.

The Session

Each pair of runners picks a time in which they think they can both comfortably complete a lap.

The runners then line up at the starting point and on command each runner within a pair runs in the opposite direction to their partner.

The goal of each runner is to arrive back at the start point at exactly the same time as their partner.

After appropriate recovery runners can try again. Several attempts can be made and runners should be encouraged to try different paces.


Runners must maintain a consistent pace. There should be minimal speeding up or slowing down in order to make adjustments near the finish line.

Since running watches make this a trivial exercise, runners should be encouraged to at least not look at their watches while running (asking athletes to take their watches off never goes down well).

Group Size

Since runners must be paired up, an overall even number of athletes is required. In the case of an odd number of athletes one option is to create a team of three, with two of the runners running at the same time.

The number of teams of pairs is usually limited by the space available. Above 20 runners (i.e. 10 pairs) things can get congested, even on wider paths.



The run leader tells each pair of runners which pace they must run at. So the runners now have an added challenge of not only finishing together, but finishing in a specific time.

A pair of runners is successful if both members arrive at the finish line within a few seconds of their goal time.

As with the standard variation of the game, a variety of paces makes the exercise more challenging and enjoyable.

Pacing Groups

Instead of pairing runners and having one run in each direction, runners are put in even-numbered groups of four or more, with half the group running in one direction and the other half running in the other direction.

Real World Example

There is a group of eight athletes of mixed-ability and he session is taking place in a park with a 300m loop around the perimeter.

Athletes are told to complete a lap at about their 5k race pace. The athletes are then paired off in the order in which they finish, so that athletes of similar ability are put together. The athletes' times are also noted as they finish.

Each pair of runners is challenged with running in the opposite direction to their partner and finishing at the same time in which the slower of the pair ran the original loop.

After each rep there is a 60-second recovery. After four reps athletes are challenged to finish their laps five seconds quicker than previously. After another four reps they are challenged with taking another five seconds off their finishing times and complete a final four reps at this pace.


A marker placed halfway around the loop can be a useful checkpoint for the pairs of runners. If they don't reach the halfway point at the same time they can adjust their paces accordingly.


Ensure good traction on wet or slippy days. Parks especially often have tight bends which can be dangerous when running at speed.

Remember to warm up before your session and cool down afterwards.